Snoh Aalegra is taking her career to a new level. Though she has been singing since childhood and began releasing music over a decade ago, the talent has truly had a breakthrough over the past few years as she’s gotten closer with some of the biggest names in music while climbing the charts herself. In 2017, Aalegra’s debut album Feels featured the likes of Vince Staples and Vic Mensa (along with her single “Time” winding up sampled on Drake’s “Do Not Disturb”), and this past August, her sophomore project (aptly called Ugh, Those Feels Again) hit single digits on several Billboard R&B charts while earning her two Swedish Grammy nominations. Now, she’s working on another album, which she plans to drop sometime later this year, and thanks to collaborating with The Neptunes (AKA Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) and other undisclosed artists, it just may be her biggest moment yet.
With how Aalegra is so prolific lately, one might wonder where she keeps finding inspiration, but her answer is surprisingly simple. “I live life, and then I write about it,” she says matter-of-factly. And it’s not just her love life — the musician really wants to share a wide range of experiences with her listeners, from dealing with her father’s death to embracing a period of being single.
Another source of inspiration for Aalegra is fashion, so it’s not surprising that she attended Coach’s Fall 2020 show, held yesterday in a warehouse space just beside the West Side Highway. Coming full circle, the show took some inspiration from the music world this season, as Debbie Harry performed Blondie hits alongside the Coathangers, all while the collection that unfolded touched upon rocker themes and a true multi-hyphenate spirit. Aalegra, whose primary focus is her self-described cinematic soul sound, fit right in thanks to her simultaneous love for avant-garde performance outfits, film, and food.
2020 is off to a promising start for Aalegra, and as she launches into a tour, festival season, and plenty of recording sessions, she appears to truly be feeling the energy. Just ahead of the show, L’Officiel USA caught up with the musician to learn her thoughts on fashion week, her upcoming album, and her favourite parts of performing live.
We’re here at Coach. What are you most looking forward to about the show?
Just to see the collection, honestly.
What excites you most about being at fashion week?
Just getting inspired. I get really inspired by fashion. It’s just something I’m passionate about. It inspires me daily. I like to express myself through what I wear.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Kind of avant-garde, when I’m on stage [and performing]. And then if you see me on a regular day, you’re probably gonna see me in sweatpants and sneakers. I like to be comfortable. But on stage, I’m super avant-garde and I like glitter a lot.
Photo via BFA
Can you tell us a bit about how you got your start in music and your path to where you are now?
I’ve been singing since I was a little kid, and I always knew that I wanted to be a singer. And there was never a Plan B, I just always went for it. It’s been really, really tough to get to where I am, but all the hard work is really paying off, so I’m happy I never gave up.
What’s your creative process like?
I live life and then I write about it. My albums are like diaries and chapters of my life. So it’s really honest. Right now, I’m working on a new album I’m probably going to drop later this year, and I will write about what I am going through right now and this year. I have a song called “Time” on my previous album. It was about my dad, who I lost 10 years ago to cancer. So it’s different things; it's not just about love. My songs are about things I am going through and learning. I’m trying to describe all aspects of my life.
How has your time living in LA influenced your work?
It’s really shaped me a lot. Musically, I've grown so much. I’ve been around some of the best musicians in the world, so I think that’s been a huge blessing, being in the states. Because R&B and soul have their roots here. I was born and raised in Sweden. But I knew I had to come here to get better at my craft, and just suck in as much [information] as possible. I love learning and studying music. Every day, I am trying to get better.
Do you visit New York often?
Not as much as I want to, but definitely every now and then. It’s always fun. It’s great energy.
What are your favourite things to do in the city?
Find good food spots! I’m a foodie.
Have any of your experiences in New York come through in your music at all?
Not specifically in a song. But I have to say New York is my favourite city to perform in. The crowd is the best ever. It’s my favourite crowd in the world.
Back in August, you released your second album, which got two Swedish Grammy nominations. Can you tell me a bit more about that project and what you’ve learned since releasing it?
I learned that it's such a big difference, writing music when you’re in a good place. I was in a really good place when I wrote that album. I was just feeling good about myself, mentally and in my heart, and I was not going through [a hard time] or a toxic relationship. I was just single and in a good place, so that really helped me to be more open and have more fun. I feel like it just has more open energy and reaches more people. I feel this album has something for everyone that loves R&B.
Who inspires you, aesthetically and/or musically?
Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston. I’m very old-school. And they inspire me both musically and aesthetically. Those are the people I look up to when I design my stage outfits and all of that.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
How has your work evolved over the years?
It evolves every year. I feel like I get better at singing, I work on my writing. It’s important to me to develop and always grow as a writer and in the way I express myself [musically and in general]. Everybody should try to grow as a person.
Anything new you’ve started to explore stylistically?
I’m more open now than I was before. I’ve started to collaborate more with other artists, so I am more open to their sounds and adapting to what they’re doing while still being myself.
What are your hobbies outside of making music?
Fashion, film, food, and interior design.
Did you watch any of the Oscar-nominated movies?
I saw The Joker, and I am so happy [Joaquin Phoenix] won. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was incredible. I am so happy Brad Pitt won. Joaquin Phoenix is just incredible. I have no words. I was so stunned by his performance.
Any upcoming projects you can speak about?
[For my upcoming music], I’m working with the Neptunes, which is super crazy. I am also working with some other artists that I am not allowed to mention.
Anything else coming up for you?
I have a North American tour coming up in March. So I am going to tour all around the country here and Canada. Super excited about that and some festivals, like the Roots Picnic, and Lovebox in the UK. There are some festivals in Europe and Lollapalooza. I don’t have my full schedule in my head, but there are a lot of things.
What are you most looking forward to about the tour?
What do you like about performing at a festival?
I like that it's a wide audience. And that you can win over new people that haven't [heard your music yet] and have new people discover you. I think that’s the beauty of it.
Is there anything else you would like to touch upon?
That’s it! I have a tour so...come! Come to a show!